By Steven Plaut
1. The Israeli judicial system has always been fundamentally anti-democratic. It operates at a dual level, with one set of rules for leftists and the other for everyone else. It is notoriously weak in protecting fundamental civil liberties and especially freedom of speech. The courts, including the Supreme Court, are crawling with anti-democratic “judicial activists,” who adhere to the doctrine of judicial tyranny that holds that unelected judges have the right to veto the will of the democratically elected representatives of the people and that judges should be able just to make up laws and rights out of thin air as they go along.
Well, now the very top officials in the Israeli judicial system have launched an official jihad against freedom of speech. It takes the form of the attempted criminalization of media criticism of the rulings and verdicts of judges. This is not the first such attempt to suppress criticism of judges, verdicts, and rulings. The Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court Asher Gronis and the non-judge administrative chief of the Israeli court system, Michael Spitzer, have submitted an official petition to Israel’s Attorney General and Chief Prosecutor demanding that criticism of court rulings by people on web sites and in blogs be criminalized. The story appears in Hebrew at http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/law/.premium-1.2108173
(Haaretz English web site has not run it). Ironically, the leftist Attorney General has indicated that he is dubious about the petition because it clearly violates freedom of speech, all this from a leftist who has a very dubious record of his own when it comes to freedom of speech for non-leftists.
The two judicial honchos are upset because there is so much harsh criticism of judges on the internet. Not all of it is over the outrageous rulings by some Supreme Court judges, in fact a lot of the condemnation concerns rulings in family court and divorce court.
The two honchos claim to favor freedom of speech in general and the right to criticize harshly anyone ELSE in Israeli public life, just not judges. In a few cases, protests have been held in front of the private residences of targeted judges, and I suppose the chiefs might have a case in asking that THESE be prohibited, since they create a public nuisance. But that is a far cry from demanding that those who criticize court verdicts on the internet be indicted as criminals. The two chiefs may have adopted their initiative from Stalin’s Soviet regime, which had similar criminalization measures.
And since your humble curmudgeon criticizes judges all the time, including in this special case of judicial honchos trying to criminalize the exercise of freedom of speech, if you do not hear from me now for a few years please bake me a cake with a file inside and smuggle me some cartons of smokes to use as currency.
2. Yediot reports today that many diplomats from foreign countries are complaining that their offices and residences in Tel Aviv have been burglarized in recent weeks. Thieves and burglars break in and steal valuables, …read more